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Observation Nation (Shannon Lecture #2)

January 16, 2023 at 7:00 PM

Location:Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre,
355 Cooper St., Ottawa
Audience:Alumni, Anyone
Key Contact:History Department
Contact Phone:613-520-2828

event posterJanuary 16: Observation Nation

7 PM Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 355 Cooper St., Ottawa

Alan MacEachern, Western University

When the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) was founded in 1871, it saw its principal duty as enlisting an army of ordinary Canadians in daily weather observation, with the long-term goal of a steadily improved understanding of the nation’s weather and climate. But the government and public were so enticed by the possibilities of weather prediction that the MSC was soon drawn into that. Meanwhile, the observers continued jotting down both quantitative data (temperature, precipitation, etc.) and qualitative remarks (about the changing seasons, extreme weather, etc.) … but the MSC never found a way, or the time, to use the qualitative ones. With the Environment Canada meteorological collection now at Western University, Alan MacEachern is studying what these records can tell us about Canada’s weather, climate, and people.


Alan MacEachern teaches history at Western University. He is the author of The Miramichi Fire: A History (McGill-Queen’s, 2020) and co-author of The Summer Trade: A History of Tourism on Prince Edward Island (McGill-Queen’s, 2022). He is writing a book about the first century of the MSC’s observation program.

Co-presented with the support of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies.